Dacre Henry Deudreath Smyth: Towards Captains Flat
Dacre Henry Deudreath Smyth: Towards Captains Flat and other works
Although not mentioned in the Standard Australian Encyclopedia, Dacre Smyth is an unusual entry for the University of Canberra's Art Collection. Dacre Smyth was better known as Commodore Dacre Henry Deudraeth Smyth AO. Born in London on the 5th May 1923, to a distinguished British general, Nevill Maskelyne Smyth. Following the First World War, the family emigrated to Australia when Dacre was only two years old. Given the high military status of his father, it was not surprising that Dacre entered military service. He joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1940 and saw service both at the battle of Coral Sea, 1942 and the D-Day landings in 1944. He also saw front-line action in Korea and Vietnam. He retired from the services with the rank of Commodore in 1978.
Following his retirement, Dacre became known for his landscape and seascape paintings, which became a keen hobby with something like 2800 completed. Many of these works were published in a series of fourteen books including some of his own poetry. He passed away at his Toorak home aged 85 in 2008.
The Works of Art
The University of Canberra has three works of art by Dacre Henry Deudraeth Smyth in the Art Collection. Two of these are landscapes of rural locations close to Canberra. Towards Captains Flat was created in 1970 whilst Smyth was still Commodore in the RAN. The view shows a landscape typical of the area, namely a low hilly terrain with a small river lined with trees flowing through the centre with a gum tree in the foreground under a gin blue sky. The landscape is quintessentially Australian. Likewise, the painting, Towards Cuppacombalong, which was painted in 1974, is similarly composed but with a wider river and a somewhat dryer landscape. Campers at Lambrigg is a faithfully created work of a popular camping site south-west of Canberra. It contrasts somewhat from the first two works as the sky is heavily laden with rain-clouds. The landscape is lush green with hills rolling into the distance. These works of art are significant as they were also among the first paintings acquired by the University of Canberra and represent some of the earlier works by Dacre Smyth AO.
1. Dacre Smyth, https://dacresmyth.com.au
2Gerry Carmen, 'Man of the Sea saw art in hell of war and in peace, Sydney Morning Herald, 9 December 2008, https://www.smh.com.au/national.man-of-war-art-in-hell-of-war-and-in-peace-20081208-6u22.html